Monday, November 26, 2007

Korean Language Lessons - Particle I (Classificational Particles)

See the past Korean language series here: Methodology Reading and Writing

WARNING: You should be able to see typed Korean language in order to fully read this post. If you are a Windows user, you can go to Microsoft's website and download the "East Asian Language Support". Ask your local computer nerd. Entice him with a woman and it will be easy. If you are a Mac user, enjoy your cute commercials.

MORE WARNING:
The Korean never received formal education as to how to teach Korean to non-Korean speakers. Therefore, all the technical terminology that the Korean uses in this post (as well as in other Korean Language Series) are made up by the Korean. Additionally, the Korean will often be wrong about things. But hey, that’s the price you pay if you try to learn a foreign language from an amateur off a blog.

Dear Korean,


Why do Koreans add an "ah" sound to the end of a name? For example, "Hee Jin-ah," or “Kyung Min-ah”. I know that "si" is used like a Mr. or Miss, but why add the "ah?"


JR



Dear JR,

I bet you didn’t expect a Korean language lesson for your question, but the answer for your question has directly to do with one of the most important and difficult features in Korean language – particles.

The Korean must give this warning: Particles are pretty difficult. It is a very unique grammatical tool, and often adds the subtlest nuances in speech. The good news? The only two very tough things in Korean language are particles and verb conjugation. So once you master particles, you are halfway there.

There are three types of particles: classificational, conjunctional, and auxiliary. The first one is relatively easier to understand, so we will deal with particles in two parts. This part will be about classificational particles, and the next part will be about conjunctional and auxiliary particles.



Universal Grammar: How to Learn Any Foreign Language.

Given this is the first grammar lesson, it would be useful for the Korean to map out how exactly he will approach Korean grammar. In short, the Korean plans to teach Korean language along the lines of the universal grammar.

What is universal grammar? It’s what made Noam Chomsky famous. Chomsky theorized that all human languages, no matter how different they may appear, share the same essential features. Chomsky’s work is extremely abstract and theoretical, but for our practical purposes it suffices to say that there are only seven components to any human language. They are:

- Subject: Made up of noun phrases (S)
- Predicate: Made up of verb phrases, either active or stative (P)
- Object: Made up of noun phrases (O)
- Adjective phrases (AjP)
- Adverbial phrases (AvP)
- Conjunctions (C)
- Exclamations (E)

That’s it. Really, that’s it. Even the most complex sentence in any language in the world in any historical period can be broken down into these seven parts. For example, here is the first sentence of the Gettysburg Address, broken down into the parts:

AvP:[Four score and seven years ago] S:[our fathers] P:[brought forth] AvP:[on this continent] O:[a new nation,] AjP:[conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.]

For another example, here is the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence, made by Korean leaders against the Japanese rule in 1919, broken down:

S:[吾等(오등)은] AvP:[玆(자)에] AjP:[我(아) 朝鮮(조선)의] O:[獨立國(독립국)임]C:[과] AjP:[朝鮮人(조선인)의] O:[自主民(자주민)임을] P:[宣言(선언)하노라.] (“We hereby declare that Korea is an independent nation and Korean people are sovereign people.”)

This is such a significant discovery that it bears repeating in caps: ALL HUMAN LANGUAGES ARE MADE UP OF THESE SEVEN PARTS OF SPEECH.

Then what makes languages different? The only difference is the way the seven parts are organized. So learning any grammar is basically about how the seven parts of language are marked and organized. This is where we are going to begin.



Classificational Particles: Man bites dog, in three different languages.



To understand the function of classificational particles, let’s start from what we know first, i.e. English. Consider the following two sentences.

- Dog bites man.
- Man bites dog.

English speakers don’t have to think very hard to know that they mean two different things. One sentence is newsworthy, and the other is not. But step back and think about it. “Dog” in the first sentence is the same as “dog” in the second sentence. So how do we know the first “dog” is the biter (i.e. subject), while the second “dog” is the bitee (i.e. object)? In other words, how does English language note the fact that the same word is used for different parts of speech?

Answer: English speakers know by the placement of the noun with respect to the verb. If a noun comes before the verb, it is the subject of the sentence. If a noun comes after the verb, it is the object of the sentence. In other words, English sentences are “order-sensitive.”

(Aside: The king of order-sensitive language is Chinese, where even certain adverbs like time and place have to be in a certain place, or the sentence doesn’t make sense. In English, it doesn’t matter if you say “I will meet you in the building at 9 a.m.” or “In the building I will meet you at 9 a.m.” But in Chinese, only “At 9 a.m. in the building I will meet you” is correct – if you translate it strictly, it’s more like “9 a.m. in building I meet you.”)

But consider the same two sentences in Latin, which is not an order-sensitive language.

- Canis hominem mordet. (Dog bites man.)
- Homo canem mordet. (Man bites dog.)

Here, both “canis” and “canem” mean “dog”, and “homo” and “hominem” mean “man.” Do you see how in Latin, the order of the word does not matter? It does not matter because the noun is conjugated to show whether it is a subject or an object. If a noun form ends in “-em”, it is the object. No conjugation, and it is the subject. So take the second sentence, and switch the word order around, and they still make perfect sense. “Homo canem mordet” and “canem homo mordet” mean the exact same thing.

(Aside No. 2: This is all directly from The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker. It’s the best book to read if you were ever curious about languages.)

Korean is essentially the same with Latin, but with this difference: Instead of conjugating the noun, Korean language adds a “particle” at the end of the noun to show which one of the seven parts of language it belongs to. So in Korean, just like Latin, the word order does not matter. Here are the same two sentences in Korean.

- 개가 사람을 물다. Gae-ga saram-eul mulda. (Dog bites man.)
- 사람이 개를 물다. Saram-i gae-reul mulda. (Man bites dog.)



Recognize the nouns first. “Gae” is “dog”, and “saram” is “man/person”. You can see that in the first sentence, the particle “ga”, attached to “gae” shows that “gae” is the subject; the particle “eul” attached to “saram” shows that “saram” is the object. So “gae-ga saram-eul mulda” and “saram-eul gae-ga mulda” mean the exact same thing, just like Latin.

Let’s go back to what we know. English has something pretty similar to particles: prepositions. Nouns in a sentence, except subjects and objects, need a preposition to explain what the noun is doing in the sentence. For example, consider the sentence: “She walked to the park”. This is different from “She walked the park.” – in fact, that sentence makes no sense, because there is no preposition telling us what “the park” is doing in that sentence. The “to” in front of “the park” tells us that “the park” is functioning as an adverb – it is describing the manner of the verb, i.e. “walk”.

English has a similar feature as Latin as well, because you can actually conjugate nouns in English. To show plurals, we generally conjugate the noun by adding “s” or “es”. “Cup” can be changed to “cups.” Noun is also conjugated to show possessives by adding “’s”. So a cup belonging to Mary is “Mary’s cup.” (You can also say that this is not really a conjugation, but a form of particles in English.)

In Korean, all the above-named functions—showing the function of a noun in a sentence or showing a certain feature of the noun—are done by particles. So remember: In correct Korean grammar, A NOUN CANNOT STAND ALONE WITHOUT A PARTICLE.

JR, here is the answer to your question before we go any further. Why do Korean people attach “ah” to people’s names? Because people’s names are nouns, and they cannot stand alone without a particle. “ah” or “ya” are called “Exclamatory Particles” – they attach to a noun to show that this noun is an exclamation. The full list of all classificational particles are in the later part of this post.

(Aside No. 3 – Interesting thing about the Korean language, because of the existence of particles: Often, Korean sentences would be complete without a subject, just like Spanish. This is because even without the subject, all the particles in the sentence make the functions of all parts really clear.)



Advanced Stuff: Read Only If You Are Hardcore

The Korean's Note: No matter how hard the Korean tried, it was really difficult to come up with a neat chart of particles like the Korean made with Korean pronunciation, mostly because each particle has different nuances, which would require too many example sentences, and also because there are a ton of adverbial particles compared to others. Honestly, if you came this far into learning Korean, the Korean recommends buying an actual Korean grammar book written by professionals. But for a quick reference, the list below would work. The Korean also welcomes questions, as always -- but don't expect him to do your homework.

Note on the Following List: The choice of many particles depends on whether the preceding noun ends in a batchim or not. For example, the particle to indicate that a noun is a subject is either “i” or “ga”. “i” is used with a noun that ends in batchim, and “ga” is used with a noun that ends without batchim. So if you want to say “I did it”, it’s nae-ga haetda. But if you want to say “Jane did it”, it’s jae-in-i haetda. If you see particles divided by a slash, assume that the first one is used for nouns that end in batchim, and the second is for ones that do not.



Complete List of All Classificational Particles

a. Subjective particle: 이/가. Attach these things to show that a noun is a subject of the sentence. See the “dog bites man” sentences above for an example.

b. Objective particle: 을/를. Attach these things to show that a noun is an object of the sentence. See the “dog bites man” sentences above for an example.

c. Adjective particle: 의. Attach it to make a possessive or an adjective out of a noun.
E.g. 메리의 컵 ( “Mary’s cup”)

d. Predicatory particle: 이다/다. Attach these things to a noun in order to form a predicate. This actually has the same function as “be” in English.
E.g. 내가 범인이다. (“I am the criminal.”)
Beomin means “criminal/perpetrator”, so ida attached at the end of beomin makes the noun into a predicate, which explains the subject. This particle is special because it conjugates like a verb. We will deal with verb conjugation in a later post.

e. Exclamatory particle: 아/야, 이여/여. These particles attach on a noun to turn the noun into an independent exclamatory phrase. See the question of the day for an example.

f. Adverbial particle: Adverbial particles are roughly equivalent to prepositions in English, because many prepositions make an adverbial phrase out of a noun. There are a lot of these, so be ready.

1. destination – 에 (place+), 에게, 한테 (person+). Shows that the attached noun is the destination of the object. These are similar to “on”, “to”, or “toward”.
e.g. 그가 너에게 연필을 주었다. (“He gave a pencil to you.”) 내가 공을 벽에 던졌다. (“I threw the ball on the wall.”)

2. aspiration – 에, 으로/로 (place+), 에게로, 한테로 (person+). Shows that the attached noun is the eventual destination of the subject. Similar to “toward”.
e.g. 컵이 바닥에 떨어졌다. (“Cup fell on the floor.”) 그녀가 그에게로 갔다. (“She went to him.”)

3. origination – 에서 (place+), 한테서, 에게서/게서 (person+), 으로부터/로부터 (place, person+). Shows that the attached noun is the starting place of something. These are similar to “from”.
e.g. 내가 연필을 그에게서 받았다. (“I received a pencil from him.”), 그는 낸터캣에서 왔다. (“He came from Nantucket.”)

4. transition – 으로/로. Shows the attached noun is the end product of a transformation. Similar to “to” or “into”
e.g. 밤이 낮으로 바뀌었다. (“Night turned into day.”)

5. means – 로, 으로서/로서. Shows that the attached noun is a means to an end. These are similar to “with”.
e.g. 그녀가 사과를 칼로 깎았다. (“She peeled an apple with a knife.”)

6. capacity – 로, 으로써/로써. Shows that the attached noun is operating in a certain capacity. Similar to “as”.
e.g. 그가 친구로써 말했다. (“He spoke as a friend.”)

7. cause – 으로/로. Shows that the attached noun is the cause of something. Similar to “because of"
e.g. 그는 감기로 고생했다. (“He suffered because of a cold.”)

8. companion – 와/과, 하고, 랑/이랑. Shows the attached noun is a companion of something. Similar to “with”
e.g. 그가 학교에 친구와 갔다. (“He went to school with a friend.”)

9. direct quote – 라고. Shows the attached noun is a direct quotation.
e.g. 그가 “가자”라고 말했다 (“He said ‘let’s go’.”)

10. indirect quote – 고. Shows the attached noun is an indirect quotation.
e.g. 그가 가자고 말했다. (“He said let’s go.”)

11. comparison – 와/과, 만큼, 보다, 처럼. Shows the attached noun is greater than, less than, or the same as another noun.
e.g. 그의 키는 나의 키보다 크다. (“His height is greater than my height.”)

Got a question or comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@hotmail.com.

15 comments:

  1. If you're a Linux user, you deserve every problems you encounter.

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  2. The simple answer to JR's question is that -ah is just a term of affection. The Russians, Japanese and Mexicans have the same thing. The Russians add an -ovna to a girl's name, the Japanese -san or -chan and the Mexicans add -ito or -ita. It would be strange to a native English speaker because they don't convey affection in a similar similar manner. They do say Johnny instead of John or Bob instead of Robert.

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  3. Sorry Edward, that's a wrong explanation, because in Russian, Japanese, or Mexican, the terms of affection may be dropped without hurting the grammar -- it only changes the nuance of the speech. But in Korean, the sentence is incorrect without -ah attached to a name.

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  4. Actually, Edward is correct, and this -ah ending has nothing to do with the grammatical function of particles. If anything, the ending can be most likened to something like a vocative case ending; it's merely used as an indicator that you're calling out to the person rather than referring to them as a subject or object.

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  5. Edward, stop commenting under two names! Or at least find a creative alternative.

    First, particles are what Korean grammar books call "josa". And "-ah", "-yah", "-yeo", "-isiyeo" are called "hogyeok josa", or what the Korean roughly translated as "Exclamatory particles". This is straight out of Korean grammar books that the Korean had since his high school years in Korea folks. You can't dispute it.

    Second, Eddy, look at what you just said: "the ending is ... used as an indicator that you're calling out to the person rather than referring to them as a subject or object."
    How is this not a grammatical function?

    Edward's example of terms of affections (-ito or -ita in Spanish: the Korean is fully aware that he said "Mexican" in the earlier comment, following our venerable president) serves no such grammatical function. "Maricela ven aqui" and "Maricelita ven aqui" mean the same. But "Yeongsu-yah iri wa" and "Yeongsu-ga iri wa" mean different things. First sentence requires Yeongsu to be with the speaker; the second does not.

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  6. First of all, I am not Edward, but I should have clarified since I was worried you would think that. My full first name is Eddy. Second, my statement stands true because I did not call the -ah ending a particle. I consider it a suffix. It does serve a grammatical function , namely of labeling the vocative, but not as an indicator of subjects or objects (as the particles you have indicated in your original post do).

    Speaking of which, I don't have an issue with the original post. It's good that you're addressing an element of Korean language that's often difficult to comprehend. But you swiftly and unjustifiably dismiss Edward's point without fully grasping the point he is making. Although I do disagree that it's a term of affection. The ending plays a hierarchical function - a term of familiarity, if you will.

    I was about to say that you would never even have occasion to say "Yeongsu-ga iri wa" because -ga is typically a subject marker that puts emphasis on the said subject, but I realized that you could say it in such a scenario:

    Yeongsu: "Eddy-ya, iri wa."
    Eddy: "Yeongsu-ga iri wa."

    Kind of like a "no, you come here." But for the most part, -ga is not used to signal an imperative expression while -ah or -ya often serve this function, simply because its most common application is to grab someone's attention. Either way, the subject would have to be present. You may be mixing this up with "Yeongsu is coming." Except the verb construction would differ: "yeongsu-ga iri onda." In the imperative, however, the person being issued the directive must be present to receive such orders.

    A proper comparison would have been "Yeongsu-ya iri wa." vs. "Yeongsu iri wa."

    These are analogous to his point while yours are not.

    In short, -ah or -yah is used as an attention grabber while more pedestrian particles like -eun or -neun or -ga indicate subject and -eul indicates object, etc. So Edward is correct; dropping the ending does nothing to change the grammaticality of the phrase.

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  7. Sorry for the long post. I'll make it simple:

    "But "Yeongsu-yah iri wa" and "Yeongsu-ga iri wa" mean different things. First sentence requires Yeongsu to be with the speaker; the second does not."

    Right. Because you're assuming that -ga should automatically take the place of -yah. It does not, for all the reasons I mentioned above. You just drop the -ya and you're gold.

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  8. One more thing for posterity.

    "e. Exclamatory particle: 아/야, 이여/여. These particles attach on a noun to turn the noun into an independent exclamatory phrase. See the question of the day for an example."

    You said it yourself.

    Plus:

    "Yeongsu-ya, iri wa."
    is equivalent to
    "Yeongsu-ya, ni-ga iri wa."
    or
    "Yeongsu-ya, Yeongus-ga iri wa."

    There's an unspoken subject (you) implied, as with all imperative expressions.

    Apologies for the multiple posts. But I hoped to buttress my previous points to avoid further back and forths over what in actuality is a non-issue.

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  9. I still don't get what you're trying to say. Email me.

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  10. I'd like to preface my comment with the following: I'm not Korean, but I've taken two years of Korean language courses and I study/enjoy formal linguistics. Alright, now I can begin.

    There are two things I'd like to address:

    1) Your illustration of how Latin and Korean are not "order-sensitive" languages.

    I think a better way to show how free these languages truly are is by arranging the nouns and verbs the same way structurally to show how important conjugation (in Latin) and particles (in Korean) are. For example:

    Canis hominem mordet. (Dog bites man.)
    Canem homo mordet. (Man bites dog.)

    and

    개가 사람을 물다. (Dog bites man.)
    개를 사람이 물다. (Man bites dog.)

    I know that the Latin example was take from Pinker, and that the Korean example might sound a little funny with the object+object particle far away from the predicate, but to my understanding these are still correct, and they show that the location of a noun within a sentence doesn't matter in Latin/Korean as much as it does in English. (The location might provide some nuanced meanings though, but semantics aside, the translations are the gist of it.)


    2) Your answer to JR's question.

    I don't think -ah/ya are considered particles necessarily. It's definitely something you use in the referent's presence, and the referent is usually a subordinate or someone you know well who happens to be younger than you.

    I agree with Eddy that its use is merely for grabbing someone's attention, an interjection if you will, letting them know you're talking to them. You said that attaching -ah/ya makes the noun an independent exclamatory phrase, and that's true. When you say "Yeongsu-ya, iri wa", these are essentially two independent clauses. "Yeongsu-ya" sets the context for the following phrase "iri wa". The -ya, however, in "Yeongsu-ya" does not function the same way the other particles do, so it can't technically be called a particle or Josa. It does not determine the noun's role in the sentence like all the other particles do. It just lays the contextual foundation to a nearby person.. It's kind of like saying "Hey buddy, this pertains to you, so listen up."

    In the command, "iri wa" the subject is underlying. The subject could be Yeongsu, it could be Minhee, heck, it could be John. For all those people, the sentence would be:

    (Yeongsu-ga) iri wa.
    (Minhee-ga) iri wa.
    (John-i) iri wa.

    Words in parenthesis are omitted in speech.

    All three can be represented by "iri wa". "Yeongsu-ya" in front of "iri wa" does not act as a subject particle; it just narrows down the choices. It allows the sentence

    Yeongsu-ya, Yeongsu-ga iri wa

    to be collapsed into

    Yeongsu-ya, (Yeongsu-ga) iri wa

    Note that even though Yeongsu-ga is not overt in the second sentence, it is still present in the syntactic structure of the sentence.

    In summary, I just don't think you should refer to -ah/ya as a particle. Particle has a very strict meaning in languages like Korean and Japanese. It's probably best to refer to it as a suffix, and leave it at that.

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  11. Okay, the Korean wanted to talk one on one with Eddy, but now that others joined the fray, he will talk here.

    First, about the things that overlap in both Eddy's and Jaymie's posts:

    1. Somehow both Eddy and Jaymie seem to think that only those things that signals that nouns are either subject or object are particles. That's incorrect. Particles are those things that generally show the grammatical function of any noun or noun phrase. That grammatical function does not have to be being a subject or an object - it could be adjective, adverbial, or exclamatory (we can call exclamatory as "independent particle" if you'd like, since it makes a noun into an independent phrase of its own.)

    2. Both of you insist on calling -ah as a suffix, but that is even more wrong. Suffix in Korean includes: -ssi, -nim, -goon, -yang, etc. These show the status of a person, and do not serve any grammatical function. The source of confusion might be the fact that you don't attach -ah to an elder's name. But that's only because many particles have a separate "honorific form." For example, you don't say -ege when you are talking about giving something to an elder; you would use -gge. Example sentence: 선생님께 연필을 드리다, not 선생님에게 연필을 드리다.Similarly, the honorific form of -ah and -yah are -yeo, -iyeo, -isiyeo. So like this: 은사님이여. But you would not call -ege a suffix only because it manages show a person's status.

    Second, points in Eddy's post:
    1. "But you swiftly and unjustifiably dismiss Edward's point without fully grasping the point he is making. Although I do disagree that it's a term of affection."

    Um, Edward's only point was that -ah is a term of affection. So if you disagree with that point, what more do you want me to say?

    "So Edward is correct; dropping the ending does nothing to change the grammaticality of the phrase."

    You got that from what Edward wrote? You would make an amazing lawyer.

    2. There is another occasion where you might say 영수가 이리 와, as in the following.

    Eddy: 태희와 영수 중에 누가 이리로 와?
    The Korean: 영수가 이리 와.

    In this situation, that sentence can be said without 영수 being there. And the distinction between -ga and -ya is necessary because the verb the sentence ("wa") does not properly show whether it's imperative or not.

    3. Your example of 영수 이리 와 is grammatically incorrect, because (as I wrote earlier in all caps) in correct Korean grammar, A NOUN CANNOT STAND ALONE WITHOUT A PARTICLE. Now, I know that in modern Korean, especially in spoken language, particles are sometimes dropped. But such practice nonetheless produces a grammatically incorrect sentence. That's why I chose to compare 영수야 이리 와 versus 영수가 이리 와 - I wanted to show that, depending on the particle, the sentences can mean two different things.

    Third, Jaymie's post:
    1. Your first point is duly noted. That would have been a better sentence arrangement.

    2. I never said -ya replaces -ga as subjective particle. Of course not! -ya is an exclamatory particle, while -ga is a subjective particle. They obviously create different things.

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  12. The list of particles in the original post is incredibly useful. I've looked for something like that other places but haven't found it. Thank you!

    As a Russian speaker I feel the need to clarify that the -ovich/-ovna endings aren't terms of affection. They're used to form the patronymic. For instance, Ivan Petrov's son Sergei would be called Sergei Ivanovich Petrov. His daughter Vera would be Vera Ivanovna Petrova.

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  13. in response to edward:
    What you are describing is not "affection," but rather "diminutive." German-speaking people do it with -chen, (Maedchen - little maiden), Spanish-speaking people do it with -ita (Pablito - little Pablo) and Russian-speaking people do it with -ka (Paulushka - little Paula). While there are many other languages with this feature, -ovna in Russian is NOT a diminutive. What you are describing is a form of feminine patronimic that is a feature of formal Russian.

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  14. Hey Guys, thank you all for your postings in the first place. You are all very funny people. It seems that JR was almost completely forgotten, haha. Very technical, very lively, not very straight-forward. I'll add my five cents too, which is more of a side-comment: so, yes, -ito, -inho, -chen, etc. are diminutives and terms of affection, etc. but, in a sense, they are a vocative blabla (sorry, I don't have the terminology down). And that is for the simple reason that, unless somebody's nickname is the diminutive (usually this is the case if there are two people with the same name, which would be similar to "Little John and John" and not so much like "Johny and John"), you wouldn't talk about someone who isn't present in the diminutive/affectionate form. Therefore, if you say "Marcela vem aqui" I'd interpret it as (Marcela comes here), whereas "Marcelinha vem aqui" would be (Marcelinha come here!). Of course, all of that is non-sense, since it is the presence or absence of a comma that will make it a vocative or not. In the absence of proper writing (punctuation or exclamation marks, etc.), in the absence of intonation, and all else being equal, it COULD be seen as a "particle" in the Korean sense, I guess. So, there is some truth to everybody's arguments so far. I still haven't made up my mind about whether things that are COMMONLY said can be "grammatically incorrect", though. You'd probably have to distinguish between normative and descriptive grammar (or whatever they are called). Thanks again!

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  15. Hey, I have a question.

    In your post under "f. Adverbial particle" you have some particles with (place+) or (person+) after it.

    For example, in number 1, you have 에 (place+) and 한데 (person+).

    I was wondering if you could explain what the (place+) and (person+) mean. Also, if you could give some example sentences as well, that'd be great!

    Sorry, in advance if you've already explained them and I just didn't figure it out.

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